A sensational account of Swansea City’s 2010/11 season covering 12 months in the life of a Welsh football club that in 2002 was just 40 minutes away from extinction and expulsion from the football league. In June 2010, under new management, the club pushed its way kicking and screaming in to the psyche of the Welsh football public challenging at every level the presumed domination of Cardiff City. In November they put out the Cardiff fire with a resounding victory in the capital city followed by performance after performance on the pitch in front of thousands of adoring fans. This is the story of that season told by the very people who saw all those dramatic events unfold. It is an account of a club which refused to die, which would never give in, and which went in eight years from the very depths of despair to the edge of a brave new world, the greatest league in the world—the Premier League.
|Publisher:||The History Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Keith Haynes is a lifelong Swansea City fan and has eight books, as well as countless articles for fanzines and the Swansea City match day programme. He lives in Gloucester.
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Swansea City 2010/11
Walking on Sunshine
By Keith Haynes
The History PressCopyright © 2013 Keith Haynes
All rights reserved.
Walking on Anger
It's May 2010, and to be honest the prospect of even thinking about football doesn't actually fill me with any type of positivity. It was only a few weeks earlier that the team I support, Swansea City, once again fell by the wayside at the last minute when a play-off place was almost confirmed. To be completely truthful at this point I was getting really annoyed with one or two things that were happening at the club as the season progressed. The manager, Paulo Sousa, had annoyed me; the press citing any number of players' dislikes and differences with the club had annoyed me; the lack of anything coming from the club regards any of this had annoyed me, and overall when I think about it now – I was bloody annoyed. Anger management should have been a route out. But should I really have been angry? I shouldn't have been, I know. When we were first promoted to the Championship only two seasons previously, I would have been happy to have stayed there forever. So what had changed?
The first thing that changed was the departure of Roberto Martinez after our first Championship season ended in 2009: now that annoyed me. I ran up a £120 telephone bill while on holiday in Sri Lanka as it all unfolded. Then the appointment of Paulo Sousa annoyed me, purely from a football point of view because I didn't feel he would contribute anything other than negativity to our side. I may have been proved wrong as our second season in the Championship moved forwards, but I knew he wouldn't hold water, and indeed over the last fifteen games or so of the season I doubt if we won three games. I'm annoyed about that more than anything. My view at the time was that you don't loan players to your rivals. Now Blackpool, when Stephen Dobbie was loaned at the end of January 2010, may well not have been considered a rival, indeed Dobbie may not have been considered a first-team player. However, as a result of some magnificent loan signings and an astute manager in Ian Holloway they soon became our closest rivals. And the Dobster was instrumental in this. More annoyance.
Holloway is quoted as walking away from Swansea City's stadium the season before and admitting that the way Swansea played their game was the only way to get out of the Championship. He quickly put the blueprint into play and before you knew it Blackpool were beating the country's finest in the Premier League. Fair play Ian. 'Cheers for the striker who scored decisive goals against Plymouth and Doncaster and got us to Wembley when all looked lost,' says our friend in his distinctive West Country accent.
A mate of mine has recently stated that Dobbie's loan to Blackpool didn't affect the season. I will repeat his stats: he scored 5 goals in 10 games (Blackpool won two of those games he scored in the season proper), and he scored against Forest in the play-offs to take Blackpool to Wembley. Not affecting the season? Really? There's another reason I'm annoyed, and I think the Swansea chairman – from what I am hearing – isn't too happy either. And I don't blame him. Things may be announced soon.
Swansea City's board has built itself up on what has gone on before – there is no way they want to be the reason why the club falls into administration again. There are three reasons for this: they are Swansea City fans, they have egos that would be forever dented and finally they would never be able to buy a drink in Morgans Hotel again. So, with Huw Jenkins guiding things as such, and admirable back-up in the board room, the last thing I will do is point the finger there. I know that they have my club at heart, and support them solidly in doing what they believe to be right for our team. I mean, here we are in the Championship, hardly failures are they? I've had my eye on them, mind you. Recent history tells us that the regime at the club will give the current manager, whoever that may be, a decent shot at things. They will get upset from time to time, we all do, but they have given all the managers of recent years a fair shout. And they have been good quality managers at that. But Paulo didn't fill me with any sort of confidence – he was a great player, but then so was Bobby Charlton.
At that time I'd heard that Paulo hadn't been in touch with the club since the end of the season, and things weren't as tickety-boo as all would have you believe. This led me to think 'sack him, I don't care'. He blew it when it was on a plate. Heartless, I know, but I was so angry I really couldn't give a flying scone for Paulo Sousa ... and Bruno thingy, his assistant. You will find, from time to time as you read this book, that my mood is up and down quite a lot. My pure view is one of a fan who loves laughing at the wide world as we career along poking fun at other teams, especially those cases down the road. The story is often interspersed with moments of pure elation, downright anger, followed by further periods of remorse and total unhappiness. Yes, it's called being a football fan. And quite similar to marriage I'll have you know. Bear with me though, this is a Swansea journey.
In a more reflective mood I can see why Paulo wouldn't be going just yet, when you look at the season and the little we spend as a club on players, the whole adventure of the 2009/2010 season seems a success. Maybe someone will come in and poach him from us? We may even get a few quid compo! The news is telling me that Hull City want a certain Nigel Pearson as their new manager, thus leaving Leicester City in the hunt for a new guiding light. I hope he is Portuguese. I have been a bit of a pain at times over the years in relation to certain football matters, especially when my club was being pillaged by all sorts of dodgy types. I made a few remarkable acquaintances along the way, though – indeed I met some really interesting people. Over the years as I wrote books, and certain other newspapers wanted a few more column inches, things got quite positive. I suppose the real problem for me was the success of Swansea City. Put simply, as soon as we drove the thieves away from the club, leading up to the fans taking over, I went away too. The dodgy elite not being there stopped my moaning and constant haranguing of club owners who would do us down. My talents were no longer needed. I was removed from the club programme as was Phil Sumbler; that was a relief, I didn't have an agenda any more and didn't need to keep punching from the inside. I was disappointed that no thanks were ever conveyed, but maybe these new owners, these fans from the terraces, were as wary of me and my untempered rationale as those we had just ousted?
I have kept many acquaintances in football; they have proven a lifeline when I have become bored in recent times. As I complete my FA agents' licence (just for the hell of it) this has proved very beneficial. I mean the removal of Paulo Sousa was a little clearer to me having spoken to the very agents who had dealt with Swansea City of late. The fees we paid via Paulo that season were quite high. For me, now, this indicates a club desperate to bring in players when the manager was either failing to do so or not able to do so owing to his lack of knowledge. It has to be so.
I got a message from a well-known Welsh London-based journo ... 'Writing a book is it? They won't like it at Swansea boy – they were never sure about you down there, even though your lot were instrumental in getting them on the board.' Well, I know differently. We aided their move from the terraces to the boardroom, but so did so many others – they took the poisoned chalice, and since then have worked wonders. I personally don't care who likes me and who doesn't, no matter if they be board members or Swansea fans. I couldn't give a toss. That has never been my goal in life – to be liked. I have my friends and I have my family, which is all that matters.
So I am sold; I am on the road to glory once again with Swansea City FC – the book is a goer, and there is a number of interested publishers. Remember I'm only writing a book, it won't stop the world turning! The topic will bore some (or maybe most) but they haven't heard from the real me, ever. I have always been too edited and too cornered to give a real fan's view. This will be different though. It won't upset anyone, don't get me wrong, but fans are fans and they know how it goes out there in midweek in the snow, and in pre-season gubbins at, let me see, oh, Hereford. That's the first one for me, then, Edgar Street in the summer. I suppose it could be worse. But not much.
The thread about Paulo Sousa leaving the club is gathering momentum, and if he does I'll have to put up with all the rumour and speculation about who gets the job next. Maybe we should have given the job to Gus Poyet – he was my first choice to be fair – and now cementing things at Brighton. And that's not a bad shout – who do we go for? Who would want this Swansea chalice? My view is that not many managers would, after all we would be on our third manager in as many seasons. It's difficult. Then all hell breaks loose, Paulo is a wanted man. First it's West Ham, then it's Leicester. An astute chairman would sit on his hands, methinks. One minute we are looking at sacking him, the next we are back on the gravy train. Guillem Bauza has been released as well, so the squad is being trimmed in the manager's absence. And players are being lined up as well, and judging by the names I have been given, Paulo doesn't even know where these teams play, let alone who their players are.
15 May 2010
And then Besian Idrizaj died. I was shocked. I saw it on Ceefax. 'Swansea City striker is dead'. I pressed in the page numbers ... who is it? Trundle?, Gorka? even Kuqi? When I read his name, it didn't register; Idrizaj had played only one full game for the Swans – he was one in the making for us – he had made two substitute appearances as well. He only scored one recorded full-time goal for Luton Town while on loan in 2007 from Liverpool. We got him on a free from Liverpool and I had seen him twice in a Swans shirt. He had a lovely touch and seemed to be fitting in with the Swansea City way. Besian was definitely one for the future. The tributes poured in, and another bright star was remembered. Alan Curtis said it all – he is the right man to say the best things when the club needs to, especially at times like this. He stated that Besian was going to make a real impact on the coming season, and from the brief glimpse I had, I really had to agree. But I couldn't say it like Curt. My thoughts were more simple, less – thoughtful. Besian Idrizaj died in his sleep, there was no rolling drum or conspiracy theory. He did have some medical issues at Liverpool but they were analysed and all was good for a bright future. For all of us Swansea supporters it was a shock. He died at home, with his family. If there was to be a place to be where any of us died, I would say at home with our family would be the answer.
Football anger and football misery are put into context again. And life itself becomes far more hopeful, if not a tad more fragile as a result.
* * *
May and June is a mad time at football clubs and because so little happens the rumours are rife. Supporters want whole squads assembled by the middle of June! Madness! Summer 2010 is no different – in fact it feels worse than usual. The fans have no scores to settle and argue about after a weekend of football, and as a result the rumour mill starts to crank itself into life. So far the club is losing Dobbie to Blackpool, Sousa is now linked to Hull City, Ashley Williams is linked with just about every Premier League club and Darren Pratley is about to sign for Nottingham Forest for the fifth time this year. I'll add a few more for you – Neil Danns is signing from Crystal Palace, Jordi Gomez and Jason Scotland are coming back, and when Sousa leaves Paul Tisdale will be the new Swans manager. They obviously don't know Tisdale, because I know he wouldn't want to be our manager. I have my spies, in fact I don't need them – I know for a fact he will not leave Exeter City. I mean it's not even time for the play-off final and all this is being talked about in every Swansea drinking house. What I do know is that a terrific player by the name of Neil Taylor at Wrexham would love to sign for us, and that Leon Britton is going to be moving on. A signing-on fee, and a big increase in cash each week is the incentive for any player but Leon is going because he can't work with Paulo; that is my belief. Taylor is coming in because he doesn't care who he plays for in the Championship – after all, a job in the Championship is a far better job than one in the Conference at Wrexham. If he signs he could well pick up four grand a week, a little more than he gets at Wrexham I would have thought. That, my friends, is not rocket science. What is, though, is the ever-evolving, press-driven, Cardiff-based arrogance of the determination to upset the apple cart further at Swansea City. I read a list of players that if borrowed or purchased will bankrupt the club this season at the new Cardiff City stadium. Part of me thinks 'good riddance', but I know the true and genuine Cardiff fan would have a huge gap appear in their lives if this was to happen ... and anyway, they are worth a good few points each season, so why take that away from Swansea City?
I also think that some football fans need a little educating at times, myself included, as to the ways of the movement of players between clubs. But I am learning, quicker than most. Get ready Huw, I may well be sitting in front of you in the coming years talking through the next big Swansea City signing! There is no other industry that is as clever at working around the signing-on guidelines of players than football. When loan windows appear we see players signing 'potential' deals over three years, when really the loan window is there for just that – for players to be loaned. But the term 'loaned with a view to a three-year deal' has cropped up regularly in recent times. So clubs are not stupid, and Swansea City are not stupid either. Unless a player needs to be snapped up immediately, a club is hardly likely to sign them in May when they know they can do so in July thus saving two months' wages, are they? Swansea know this and most astute clubs do, too. At Swansea we do have other factors influencing players outside of agents and media speculation, and that is pay scales. Blackpool are very similar in this respect. Swansea City players like Leon Britton will not be on vast sums of money to ply their trade; in Leon's case he was happy enough to play at League Two level when he joined us on a free transfer from West Ham. He, like many before him, found a home for himself in South Wales, and a bond with the area. He wanted to sign. As a result he built a relationship with the supporters and found himself able to supply a decent wage for his family. Everyone's happy. My thoughts are that he should be happy now, but when money is not so much of a factor, and you are not getting games, then common sense says that Leon will move on regardless.
As Swansea City progressed, his wages kept pace with the club's success, reaching the point whereby he could be about to go out of contract and demand far more money for the level he was at. That is simple economics, but those simple economics will not match Swansea City's desire to pay him an amount of money, be that £8,000 a week as an example, for a two- or three-year contract. Most of us would be happy to be on £32,000 a month – I think all of us would just about manage on that. However, if another club is waving a cheque for £14,000 a week, what is the player expected to do? All of a sudden they are on a three-year deal worth in excess of £1,500,000. Then there is the big signing-on fee. This could be £150,000 at least for an out-of-contract player (and agent). Economics at this level mean the player will probably leave.
In this case Sheffield United are keen to sign Leon; he is available on a free, which means a very decent signing-on wedge for him as well. Leon and agent are happy, Sheffield United are happy, they have got one of the best midfielders in the league, and to be honest Swansea fans should be happy as well. He has got us to a position where we are in good health on the pitch, and has taken the opportunity to make himself secure for the rest of his life as a result. But it didn't work like that for everyone. My view is that Leon will be very unhappy at Sheffield United, the ball constantly in the air will do his neck in for a start. At this the Swansea City fans are very annoyed, almost furious in some circumstances, but nothing like the feeling experienced at the departure of Roberto Martinez. Leon had done his bit, and the 50/50 split in emotion meant the more reflective supporter could wish him well. I just feel today, as his signing is announced, that he has made a very bad choice professionally based on a bigger pay packet. Granted Sheffield United are a bigger club than Swansea City, if attendances and history are reviewed, but are they really now, today, as we speak of him leaving? Is size important compared to achievement in the future? I think Leon will live very quickly to regret this move – maybe his agent won't, but Leon will.
Excerpted from Swansea City 2010/11 by Keith Haynes. Copyright © 2013 Keith Haynes. Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Phil Sumbler,
1. Walking on Anger,
2. My Mate Phil: Manager of Swansea?,
3. Holidays in the Sun,
4. Autumnal Rain,
5. Big Frank is a Bit Leggy,
6. Wig Wam Bam,
7. Bragging Rights – Again,
8. Oi Mush, it's Christmas,
9. Swine Flu in the Last Minute,
10. You are Who?,
11. Twit off, Please,
12. Flowers of Romance,
13. Can we Buy an Away Win, Please?,
14. Delia, you're Breaking my Heart,
15. Shaping Up,
16. Last Call,
17. Two Minutes to Midnight,
18. Wembley, 30 May 2011,